Some people are fans of the Baltimore Ravens. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Baltimore Ravens. This 2014 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group.
Your team: Baltimore Ravens
Your 2013 record: 8-8. God, wasn't it nice to have them out of the playoffs? It felt like a vacation.
Your coach: John Harbaugh, who is the worst Harbaugh. I can't believe any Harbaugh is worse than Jim Harbaugh, but at least Jim has some small, deeply cloaked understanding that he is a psycho who wears terrible pants. John lacks this final, molecular trace of self-awareness, and thus, he is the fucking worst. I hate him. I hate his face. I hate the way he bitches after every single goddamn play, like a scientifically formed hybrid of an NBA player and a World Cup player. Other young coaches are going to fall in line with John's "complain to the refs because the refs don't know what they're doing because the NFL changes the rules every week" model of behavior, and the NFL will become insufferable for it.
Harbaugh fits in perfectly with the Ravens' fanbase, who treat their own personal failings and/or legitimate criticism as some kind of horrific injustice done upon them. I never thought the Ravens would stay quite so hateworthy after Ray Lewis left, but I was wrong. I was so wrong. They're worse, and John Harbaugh is the biggest reason why. Also, Baltimore is the flyover country of the Northeast corridor.
Your quarterback: Joe Flacco. I'll go ahead and settle the meme for you now: He's not elite. Flacco threw more picks than any other QB in football last year not named Eli Manning (Eli is basically Flacco's NFC twin). His passer rating was worse than those of Chad Henne, Christian Ponder, Case Keenum, Kellen Clemens, and Mike Glennon. That doesn't happen with, say, Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning doesn't just go out and have entire season like that. OOPS SORRY GUYS! Flacco is a streaky passer who requires a good line, a top-rated defense, and a quality domestic abuser in the backfield to really flourish.
What's new that sucks: Steve Smith is here! By God, Steve Smith was born to be picked up as a free agent by the Ravens. I bet the Ravens even make their potential free agents fill out a questionnaire.
1. Are you old?
2. Do you like punching babies?
3. Do you have a chip on your shoulder the size of fucking Gibraltar?
4. Is there absolutely no reason for that chip on your shoulder to be there?
5. Has that chip on your shoulder robbed you of any chance to have a sense of humor about yourself?
6. Seriously though: you're old, right?
Fun fact: Smith is listed as "S. Smith Sr." on the team depth chart, which is a real Titus Young move. Owen Daniels is also here, because the Ravens needed a backup tight end who knows how to get hurt once the starting tight end gets hurt.
What has always sucked: Under Harbaugh's direction, the Ravens have become nearly as tone deaf to the general public as their mid-Atlantic counterparts. That shouldn't be possible. No team should ever be as hamfisted and stupid as the Redskins, but here we are. This is an organization that operates under a constant, black cloud of perceived disrespect. The Ravens could employ a war criminal and they would treat him like a fucking prince just because the rest of the world disapproved. This is a whiny, arrogant franchise that is constantly braying for respect even though they've done exactly nothing to earn it. The rest of the world found this out a few weeks ago, when Ray Rice got off with a two-game suspension and the Ravens VP of public relations wrote this column, titled "I Like Ray Rice". Yes, his name is Kevin Byrne and the column is called BYRNE IDENTITY. They made that pun on purpose.
Anyway, whenever your star running back decides to knock out his wife and drag her through an elevator like a hunter dragging a dead deer back to his Jeep, it's a real Raven move to be like TELL YOU WHAT, THIS IS ONE AWESOME GUY. Here are some excerpts from PR Guy's pile of shit:
If you had asked me on Feb. 1 to name five Ravens players I would never expect to receive a call at 3:00 in the morning about doing something illegal, Ray Rice would be on the list – EASILY.
Why does this matter? You're the fucking PR guy. I know you and Ray Rice aren't bowling buddies. The fact that you were blown away by Rice KO'ing a lady doesn't make it better. "Yes, he knocked his fianceé out, but he's not the kind of guy I think of when I think of people who knock women out, so he really only half knocked her out."
I liked Ray Rice a lot then. I like Ray Rice a lot today.
Who cares what you think? Again, you're the PR guy. You're paid to like everyone. You're a Pete Hammond film review in human form. "Ray Rice is a slambang action thriller! Best time at the elevator you'll have all summer!"
Team Owner Steve Bisciotti, our President Dick Cass…
(pauses for a moment)
Heh heh, Dick Ass.
…General Manager Ozzie Newsome and I all have sons. (Dick and I also each have a daughter.)
"We'd be proud to have our daughters knocked out by Ray Rice."
We know what it is to be a parent. We know what it is to support a child after a mistake.
This is gross. This is not your child. This is an employee. Trotting out the PR guy to say "Ray Rice is my soul child" is cynical at best and evil at worst. What about when you cut Rice's ass next spring because Bernard Pierce is ready to take his job? Is he your kid then? Is this strictly a foster parentship? Go fuck yourself.
When we found out about Ray's punishment during yesterday morning's practice, I told Steve that I wanted to write about Ray Rice and how much respect I have for him.
And that is when Steve should have said, "Who are you? Why are you talking to me? Can someone fire this asshole?"
I wasn't sure it was my place or the team's to talk more about Ray right now.
I thought the subject was so sensitive to the franchise that I should check with the owner, a man with great insights.
Because he's rich!
"That's your call," Bisciotti told me. "I don't think Ray needs it, and I don't think you'll change the minds of those who don't want to have anything to do with Ray. ... How sad we all are that he tarnished his image…
So true. I feel AWFUL that Ray Rice's image was tarnished. That was the real tragedy here. It's not about the lady laying unconscious on the floor. It's about a man's LEGACY here. People forget that.
…"No one outside, I've learned, can understand how we look at these guys as our sons and close friends as opposed to just employees."
Again, until you cut him. Then he's garbage. OH BUT NO ONE GETS WHAT IT'S LIKE TO EMPLOY FOOTBALL PLAYERS! SOMEONE PUT THAT EVERLAST SONG ON. Trust me, I understand how you guys supposedly look at your players like children, because you never shut up about it.
Now here's Byrne Supremacy Taco trotting out anti-bullying "expert" Paul Coughlin to defend Rice.
"Ray is one of the most prominent and active voices in the anti-bullying movement. I told him that, from what I understood about his incident with his wife that it was not a form of bullying…
OH REALLY! Oh okay. Good to know. Steal a guy's lunch money? Bullying. Knock a lady out? TERRIBLE MISTAKE.
"…Bullying harms and diminishes life itself. A bully intends to harm and continues to do that…"
And what is the intention behind an alleged uppercut to the face? Is that meant to be some kind of physical therapy?
"…It seemed Ray had a conflict with his wife that he regretted."
When I told Bisciotti at the end of our conversation yesterday that "I think I am going to write that blog about Ray," Steve smiled and said: "Is it a flaw for us that we support our players in tough times? If it is, I'm OK with that."
This is what kills me. Here are the Ravens doing the exact wrong thing in handling the Rice matter, and they're just so goddamn PROUD of it. They treat the spinning of Rice's domestic violence charge like an act of supreme, Gandhi-like unselfishness. "By God, if it's wrong to piss in a bucket and throw it on everyone, I don't want to be right!"
Talk with you next week. I promise it will be about football.
And there you have it: everything swept under the rug, with a promise to ignore it all the next week, because the world has heard enough of this whole pesky knocking-women-out business. I hope the Ravens lose every damn game.
What might not suck: That CJ Mosely looks pretty good.
Hear it from Ravens fans!
As a Maryland native and Baltimore resident, I can say with absolute confidence, that's it's the fans. They make you want to punch a baby and have the sense of humor of a cat. They look like walking stale eggplants on game day with their purple jerseys and camo purple pants. If I could strap one fanbase to the Hindenburg it'd be these people.
Because I care A LOT more about Ray Rice's YPC than I do about the fact he dragon punched his fiance on camera, and I am a very accurate representation of how Ravens fans in general feel about this situation. We're currently erecting a statue of Ray Lewis.
The kicker was named the team MVP last year.
If Flacco isn't the best QB in the NFL then "you aren't a Ravens fan" or you're a hater. If you think Ray Rice should have gotten a longer suspension then "you're one of the people trying to bury him for no reason" or "you don't want the man to get on with his life". The constant media victim act and the "entire world vs Ravens Nation" attitude is awful.
We had an opportunity to take a strong stance against domestic violence as soon as the Ray Rice incident broke. Instead we downplayed his role and overplayed the role of his wife so as to try to limit criticism. Then we tried to set up a phony redemption story after the two-game suspension was announced. We proudly displayed shameless fans reserving the best applause for Ray Rice (even over Lord Flacco) on the team website for all to see.
Flacco, despite a massive contact and being married, is apparently still getting hair cuts from his mother.
This picture has been altered to protect the anonymity of those involved… This was taken AFTER the Ray Rice "Incident", 4 of the 5 pictured in these shots are WOMEN, and this was taken in a photo op AT A SCHOOL.
I was at a Ravens/Steelers game about 10 years ago. In the section next to mine in the upper deck, this Steelers' fan was talking shit to a couple of Ravens fans the whole game. One of our fans gets up and starts walking up the stairs. Steelers guy jumps up, ready to go. The Ravens fan then puts his hands up in conciliation, and looks like he's going in for a hug. Steelers guy looks at his friends, laughs, and walks down to hug the guy. Ravens fan sucker punches him and the guy fell down about three stairs. Ten security guys and cops showed up and only the Steelers fan was ejected.
This team has more broken-down corners than East Baltimore.
It was the spring semester of my freshman year so I was still taking my core curriculum of classes - what Rutgers called "liberal arts courses". One of these was Communication 101.
This class, being an intro class, was a large lecture comprised of freshmen and sophomores... and of course, several upperclassmen on the Rutgers football team. Among the players was a certain star RB who put the school on the map, none other than Ray Rice himself. I was starstruck at first but then I began not really noticing him there, partially because he never showed up to class.
One day, Ray decides to show up to the class after countless weeks of not being present. Unfortunately for him, it happened to be the day of the midterm. Our professor was standing at the front of the room, handing out scantrons and test sheets. It was a mandatory rule for athletes to sit in the first two rows of a lecture hall (cause it's supposed to keep them focused; yeah, okay) so Ray and his cavalcade of teammates walk down towards the front of the room. I was sitting in the fifth or sixth row (maybe I thought those cool football players would notice me!) so I got a pretty good view of what happened next.
The professor goes to hand Ray and company their test sheets. Ray takes the sheet/scantron, looks at it and sees that it's a test. He then laughs and says "nah, Ray-Ray don't take no tests" before dropping the papers and walking out. His teammates laugh and follow suit.
I don't know why he ever went to class, seeing that he had already declared for the draft at that point. All I know was that 1) I got a B in that class after some pretty meticulous studying and that 2) Ray Ray most likely got an A, even if he didn't take no tests.
I lived in Baltimore for a little over a year and a half. At the beginning of the year I moved to NYC and let me tell you, this was like going from a LeBaron to a god damn Maserati.
Fuck Under Armour.
We're in an emotionally abusive relationship with Joe Flacco. Read a Ravens message board anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. EST on Sundays. I guarantee you: The same people who've memorized his contract details to ward off "haters" and who fap to highlights of the Mile High Miracle openly wonder if he knows that audibles, hot routes and hard counts are things that exist.
This team is so paranoid it makes Nixon look sane.
During the complete debacle that was the Patriots game last year, fans were clamoring for Tyrod Taylor be given the starting job over Flacco.
Kyle Richardson was the Super Bowl-winning punter for the 2000 Ravens and I was his neighbor from 2009-2010. We chatted every so often and it was really cool living next to someone who owned a Super Bowl ring.
For almost that entire year, I thought he was Matt Stover.
A few days ago I went to the Ravens homepage and watched footage of Joe Flacco during a press conference. Upon being asked some shitty question about "how the team's preseason success will affect their regular season", Joe shook his head slightly and started to reply with "...I don't know..." He then stopped, looking immediately ashamed/embarrassed and followed up with, "Ah man, they told me to stop saying that. Every time there's a highlight of me talking to the press, I'm saying ' I don't know'. I'm not supposed to say that anymore". This is our quarterback.
We may hate the Steelers, notice the Bengals on occasion and pity the Browns...but the latent old-timer rage at the Irsay family is still potent as ever. Oh, and we will argue with you vehemently about how different it was when we stole the Browns. Nothing will get a Ravens fan hotter than saying that we stole the Browns or calling Ray Lewis a murderer. You may as well have called their mother a whore, or insinuate that Johnny U wasn't an incarnation of Christ.
Our starting running back carried his wife across a hotel lobby for more yards than he carried a football at any point last year.
Don't ever think about going to a Raven game. The traffic is awful, and the drivers are just the worst. You'll waste 3+ hours of your life. You'd be safer in a crosswalk in Tiananmen Square.
Ray Lewis is a saint, regardless of "what happened down in Atlanta"
The local sports talk station's morning show is hosted by former Chief of Police AND convicted felon Ed Norris (whose main criteria for screening calls seems to be anyone willing to say "they really screwed you/you're one of the good guys") and he and his co-host spent the better part of a month saying "let's wait until all the evidence comes out" in regards to passing judgment on Ray Rice. Unfortunately, this was the month AFTER the video of him dragging his unconscious fiancé by the hair like a caveman went viral.
Andy Moeller had 3 arrests in 4 years for alcohol-related issues. Was he fired? Fuck no, he was promoted just before the 3rd arrest and didn't leave until the end of last season after he presided over the WORST O-line in the league after 3 years of regression.
The fans aren't even real fans. All the ones born before 1996 were just Redskins fans for the convenience. Now all they do is rip on Dan Snyder for being a terrible owner and make fun of RGIII's injury for some reason.
The whole damn city is filled with wannabe tough guys that seemingly watch Ray Lewis hype videos before they leave their house and hop into their Prius-repellent 4x4.
Watch the entire city turn on Flacco after throwing behind Steve Smith on the first three-and-out of the season. Nero was more forgiving.
If you have ever seen the Ravens social media presence, you know that their PR team essentially acts as its own news network. They are like CNN if the sole purpose of CNN was to inflate training camp performances and wash over the player's crimes. Each morning, the site releases a team brief that makes Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" seem unbiased in comparison. We'll tell you with a straight face how it was a good idea to pay Joe Flacco the total GDP of Botswana.
Torrey Smith is the closest we've ever come to drafting an elite WR, and he isn't one.
Ever since John Harbaugh was hired to be our HC and started demanding that his players "Play Like a Raven" (gag), Ravens fans have settled into the delusion that Ravens players are somehow better people than those who play for every other NFL team.
The overwhelming reaction from the fans I know about Ray Rice has been arguing for NO suspension, because "He wasn't found guilty in a court of law." Never mind that a) none of the Saints in Bountygate got a trial, and B) he was caught dragging an unconscious woman out of an elevator. And yet, even with his horrible use of physical violence related metaphors, Ravens fans will defend him to the grave.
Our fans play 'The NFL is ALWAYS against us" card, even though a) we've won more Super Bowls in this century than the rest of our division (2000-2013), b) Since 2000, we've missed the playoffs TWICE in 14 years, and c) we stole our team from Cleveland, with the NFL turning a blind eye to it.
Let's face it, we're known for lax bros, crabcakes, football, and the Wire. And aside from Crabcakes (the greatest of foodstuffs), that's a pretty shitty list.
Fans call in and complain about two things. Donny from Dundalk will say, "Ya know, I really like Adam Jones but I just wish he was more patient at the plate. I mean, he'd be an all-time great if ever learned to take a pitch." That will be debated by the hosts for the third time in the last hour only to be interrupted by Randy in Rosedale who, for some godforsaken reason, will beat the dead horse by saying, "I don't understand why Joe Flacco didn't organize an offseason workout with his receivers. With a new offense, they won't be as sharp once the season starts. How hard is it to pick up a phone and call Steve Smith and Owen Daniels, who already knows Gary Kubiak's system? He'll never be Peyton." This will light up the phone lines for the next 5 hours with the purple camo brigade jamming the airwaves with nonsensicalarguments.
If you ever hear these two words on Baltimore sports talk, RAY RICE, run. Jump out of your car. Listen to country music if you have to because you do NOT want to expose yourself to that. They make Stephen A. sound reasonable. They all start off their call the same way, "First of all, I just want to say, it's never OK to hit a woman..." then they justify domestic abuse. It's awful, it's painful, it has me screaming at my radio while driving to work while I'm screaming at traffic because they're building a fucking casino within a Joe Flacco overthrow from M&T Bank Stadium. I had cancer, four hours of chemo was a walk in the park compared to this never-ending torture.
Their fanbase is convinced that a grand anti-Ravens conspiracy exists at the highest levels of the NFL. Fans of every team will go to the "refs jobbed us" diatribe following a loss, but only the citizens of America's Heroin Capital (trademark pending) will go there after a win. The day after they won the Super Bowl against San Francisco, these idiots started bitching about how the NFL purposely turned off the lights in the Super Dome to slow the Ravens' momentum. Not because New Orleans is the only city in America with a shittier infrastructure than Baltimore. No, Mickey from Dundalk, Marqwan from Cherry Hill, Pussymouth, etc all, to this day, claim that there is a grand conspiracy against the Ravens.
You know why the Colts left? Because you idiots stopped going to the games, and didn't build a stadium. But you loved them? And when asked if it was okay for Baltimore to steal the Browns, they respond, "yes, it's different..." These people deserve to live in this cesspool of east coast shitiness.
Steve Biscotti wears a god damn DUSTER jacket. Fuck us all.
Can you just put up a picture of Ray Rice and not have any words with it? Just the face of Ray Rice. That might be a stupid idea, but I just read an article saying that the Ravens fans applauded him as he took the field today and that sounds really wrong.
This is a team with fans who have masturbatory fantasies involving beating the Steelers 2-0 in overtime.
There are Ravens fans who still ardently believe that Roger Goodell tried to screw the team with the blackout during the Super Bowl. Those same fans are currently busy calling into radio shows to voice their approval of Goodell's two game suspension of Ray Rice.
Over the last two years, I have come to despise everything about my fellow Ravens fans. I think the moment it finally clicked for me was when I pulled up to a rusty pickup truck at a stoplight, with the radio blasting our local sports radio retards (Seriously, we have Vinny Cerrato hosting one of our local shows. They unironically gave him the moniker 'The GM'.) Some fan was calling in to discuss their random neural firings as related to the Ray Rice suspension, and they were complaining that it was TOO HARSH because what happened was a problem between two people, and it wasn't anybody else's business but theirs, and the NFL shouldn't be butting in. Fuck us Raven fans, fuck our inferiority complex, fuck our insane loyalty to a team that has managed to make consistently winning completely unwatchable, fuck our urban blight of a city and fuck our woman punching, broken down starting running back. I hope Ray Lewis stabs him.
Our main strategy for acquiring wide receivers remains finding past-their-prime "tough guys," because we evidently judge all players as if they were defenders. Like Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin before him, Steve Smith would've been a great addition three years ago. The only time I remember a Ravens receiver getting any separation was when Rahim Moore actually fell down.
Because every Donnie and Butchy and Crystal and Dawn tuck their goddamn WalMart issued jerseys into those purple camouflage pants.
Ray Rice, a 210 lb. professional football player, can't carry a 120 lb. woman out of an elevator…so how is he supposed to carry 250 lb. linebackers?
Our offense is so pathetic that Justin Tucker has been practicing 'field goal' dances in training camp.
Because it is literally impossible to accurately rate our QB, and yet that's the only thing our fans seem interested in trying to do. Flacco is simultaneously underrated and overrated.
You can't suck and go to the playoffs five years in a row to start your career (good defense or not, we've had one of those since the late 90s but never got near five straight playoff appearances before Flacco arrived) and culminate that run with road wins where you outplay Brady and Manning and then light up a really good defense in the Super Bowl.
On the other hand, you can't be "elite" in the same vein as Brees, Rodgers, Manning, and Brady if you cash in on a huge deal and then proceed throw more picks than touchdowns.
The easy answer would be that he's somewhere in between shitty and elite, but even that assessment is wrong because if that's your position then he's both better and worse than you think.
Wanna be part of the Deadspin NFL previews? It's simple. Just email me and give me ample evidence of why your team sucks: personal anecdotes, encounters with fans, etc. I'll throw any good material into the post and give you proper credit.